President Barack Obama is beginning his post-State of the Union tour of the country in Idaho, where on Wednesday he will speak from Boise State University about some of the themes he mentioned in his address Tuesday night, the Hill reported. While in the Idaho capital, Obama is also set to meet with the family of Saeed Abedini, an American pastor of Iranian descent who has been imprisoned in Iran since September 2012. Abedini's family resides in Boise, Idaho.
Saeed Abedini was detained after he was accused of being a threat to Iran's national security by gathering with Christians in the country and setting up house churches in an attempt to convert Muslims to Christianity. The American Center for Law and Justice spearheaded a campaign to get Obama to visit Abedini’s wife, Naghmeh Abedini, including a petition that received more than 100,000 signatures.
Naghmeh Abedini said she has been pleading for a meeting with Obama since her husband was held in a number of Iranian prisons. "I was overjoyed when I heard that president Obama wanted to meet with the kids and I during his short visit here in Boise,” Naghmeh Abedini said, according to the ACLJ. “I have tried over the last two years to meet with the president or even get a phone call from him without success. It is truly an answer to prayer that he is coming to Boise and it is a miracle that he is meeting with us. I see God’s Hand in arranging this crucial meeting."
Saeed Abedini had faced the death penalty but was sentenced instead to eight years in prison in January 2013. The sentencing was condemned by Washington and Obama has urged Iranian President Hasan Rouhani to free Abedini, according to Fox News. Saeed Abedini’s lawyers said he was subjected to torture, solitary confinement and beatings and denied medical attention.
The ACLJ said the meeting with Obama “represents a crucial moment, demonstrating that the leader of the free world remains engaged in the fight to save Pastor Saeed from unjust imprisonment in Iran for his Christian faith.” The group was concerned that securing the release of prisoners like Abedini won’t be part of a potential nuclear deal with Iran.